Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner

 Only the Beautiful
Book Summary

A heartrending story about a young mother’s fight to keep her daughter, and the winds of fortune that tear them apart by the USA Today bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things and The Last Year of the War.
California, 1938—When she loses her parents in an accident, sixteen-year-old Rosanne is taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her whole life as the vinedresser’s daughter. She moves into Celine and Truman Calvert’s spacious house with a secret, however—Rosie sees colors when she hears sound. She promised her mother she’d never reveal her little-understood ability to anyone, but the weight of her isolation and grief prove too much for her. Driven by her loneliness she not only breaks the vow to her mother, but in a desperate moment lets down her guard and ends up pregnant. Banished by the Calverts, Rosanne believes she is bound for a home for unwed mothers, and having lost her family she treasures her pregnancy as the chance for a future one. But she soon finds out she is not going to a home of any kind, but to a place far worse than anything she could have imagined. 
Austria, 1947—After witnessing firsthand Adolf Hitler’s brutal pursuit of hereditary purity—especially with regard to “different children”—Helen Calvert, Truman's sister, is ready to return to America for good. But when she arrives at her brother’s peaceful vineyard after decades working abroad, she is shocked to learn what really happened nine years earlier to the vinedresser’s daughter, a girl whom Helen had long ago befriended. In her determination to find Rosanne, Helen discovers that while the war had been won in Europe, there are still terrifying battles to be fought at home.

Vienna after WWII

My Thoughts

Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner is a touching story.  It is a dual timeline novel that takes us back to 1938 when Rosie lost her parents in an accident.  The sixteen-year girl is taken in by the Calvert’s who own the vineyard where Rosie’s parents worked.  Rosie becomes the Calvert’s maid (cook, cleaner, laundress).  When Rosie becomes pregnant, Mrs. Calvert has Rosie sent to an institution.  Rosie had made the mistake of telling a person about her synesthesia, which was not understood at the time.  In 1947, Helen Calvert returns to the United States after working as a nanny abroad.  Helen’s brother, Truman, has since passed.  When Helen learns what Celine Calvert did to Rosie, she sets out to find her.  Only the Beautiful is an emotional story.  

It is heartbreaking to read about the eugenics movement.  I appreciated the author’s note at the end which provided additional information.  I thought the story was well-written with developed characters.  Rosie and Helen are great characters.  I enjoyed getting to know them.  I like the author incorporated the amaryllis into the story.  I can tell the author did her research for this book and incorporated it beautifully.  The story does address some difficult topics (racism, institutionalization, sterilization, assault, and doctor experimentation) which some people might have trouble reading about.  It is a shame that throughout history those who are “different” are often targeted.  Only the Beautiful is an informative book.  It is a story that provokes discussion and it had me searching for more information on a couple of the topics mentioned.  I enjoyed the author’s beautiful descriptions of the vineyard.  The theme that runs throughout the book is that no one needs to live the life that someone else has mapped out for them.  The determined can carve out their own path.  Only the Beautiful is a compelling tale orphaned adolescent, unwavering vineyard owner, a compassionate nanny, vibrant sounds, an involuntary surgery, and a desperate hunt.  

Only the Beautiful is available from Amazon*.  You can find Susan Meissner's other novels hereDread and Buried by Angie Fox (a general link to the series since the book was not listed on Amazon when I wrote this post) is out today as well as Tapestry of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Thank you for stopping by today.  I will be sharing my thoughts on Tapestry of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer tomorrow.  I hope that you have a joyful day.  Take care and Happy Reading!


The Avid Reader 

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

No comments:

Post a Comment